SAM Private Equity becomes Emerald Technology Ventures

Posted December 14, 2006 by habichler
Categories: Cleantech, Venture Capital

SAM Private Equity announced yesterday, that due to the recent “merger” of Robeco and SAM Group, the private equity arm of SAM is buying out the entire private equity business to create Emerald Technologies. SAM Private Equity is one of the leading Cleantech oriented VCs managing 3 funds with a total of €250M in committed capital under management, 16 professionals, 26 portfolio companies and with offices in Europe and North America.

Takeaway: Good timing to spin-out the private equity business and establish a new stand-alone player in the Cleantech space. Recent exits in the Cleantech space are attracting more and more interest from the public markets, fueling the inflow of additional capital into the VC industry. Now we all need to deliver on these promises!

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BASF fuels its product offering with Pemeas Fuel Cell Technologies

Posted December 14, 2006 by habichler
Categories: Cleantech, VC backed Companies, Venture Capital

A ping by one of the people close to Pemeas Fuel Cell Technologies has alerted me to the recent announcement that BASF is buying Pemeas Full Cell Technologies, a leading company in the fuel cell business. Pemeas was founded in April 2004 as a spin-off of the former Hoechst Group’s fuel cell activities. The company has approximately 50 employees and operates manufacturing and R&D facilities in Germany and in the U.S. The company’s product can be used, for example, in portable electronics, residential applications or backup power systems.

According to industry analysts, the global fuel cell market will grow from €1 billion in 2010 to €21.5 billion in 2020. Fuel cells are environmentally friendly and can operate with a variety of fuels. They can also be used in a wide variety of applications, such as in laptop computers, homes and cars.

Takeaway: From what I heard, the company was considering a listing on the stock exchange in the near future, now the acquisition by BASF comes as a bold move to take advantage of top cleantech technology made in Germany. Good move and congrats to the VC investors BankInvest and SAM Private Equity.

Recommendations: We need more of these cleantech investment / exits here in Europe! The exit channels – no matter if public markets or M&A transactions – are out there!

Datango – Expansion Financing Round to fuel international growth

Posted December 13, 2006 by habichler
Categories: Cool Companies, Software, VC backed Companies

As Valerie has pointed out nicely on her blog, Datango, one of our portfolio companies from the early internet days, has completed a financing round with HassoPlattnerVenture and Extorel. Datango is an interesting turn-around story, which initially started in 1999 providing “web-rides” to consumers. After the burst of the bubble the company transitioned from the B2C space into the B2B space focusing on eLearning.

After the successful acquisition of a distributor in 2004, the company has continued its turn-around and has been on a steady growth path since, primarily focusing on large roll-out projects and applications support systems (a market to be estimated to be worth a few hundred million Euros).

The new investment round signals a continued interest from investors into Datango and this emerging market space. The international market is still untapped and will provide a great opportunity for Datango to grow in the future.

Video copyright – A recent Update!

Posted November 20, 2006 by habichler
Categories: Digital Media, VC backed Companies

Two recent cases in the online video market, “EMI shuns YouTube for Gotuit“, and “Universal Music sues MySpace“, highlight the fact, that online video copyright is still a huge, unsolved issue out there to be tackled.

Gotuit, an Atlas Venture portfolio company, has succeeded to sign up EMI. Although three other major labels have licensed their music-video catalogs to YouTube in exchange for a slice of the ad revenues, EMI said in an article “that it still had concerns about YouTube’s ability to combat illicit uploads of copyrighted music videos“.

In another case, Universal Music sues MySpace for infringing on the copyrights of its artists. “The world’s largest record company followed through on that threat today, filing a copyright infringement lawsuit against MySpace and its parent company, News Corp. The suit claims that MySpace allows its users to upload videos illegally and encourages that infringement by re-formatting the videos to be played back or sent to others.”

Takeaway: Copyright, and due to the recent video portal hype – video copyright, is still a huge issue out there. A solution, which might entail better licensing deals, further legislation as well as technological innovation in order to not infringe right holders, does not seem to be in place any time soon.

Otherwise Google would not have reserved $500M according to SpiegelOnline against possible copyright lawsuits against its video services. Less than 1/3 it paid for YouTube recently….

Identic Solutions connects with Investors – €10M for Austria-based RFID company

Posted November 16, 2006 by habichler
Categories: Software, VC backed Companies, Venture Capital

IDENTEC SOLUTIONS uses the power of RFID combined with tight infrastructure to deliver real-time information on mobile resources which saves customers millions of dollars in operating costsIdentec Solutions, a provider of RFID solutions based out of pretty Austria, has announced a financing round of €10M. The company designs and markets intelligent long-range asset management system. Lead investor was SAM Private Equity with participation from Sustainable Performance Group, RFID Invest, gcp gamma capital partners (well done Oliver!) and an undisclosed private investor.

Takeaway: Identec Solutions focuses on a multi-billon euro market. According to analysts, the total market for RFID (tags, system, sw, hw, etc.) could account for $24Bn by 2015. However, so far, the expectations in this market have not been fulfilled at all. Pilot projects have been stopped or delayed. Implementation cycles take much longer than planned. Often it is necessary to cover the whole value chain with a solution in order to derive substantial cost savings. The initial hype generated by projects such as by Walmart resulted in partly disappointing results and – not surprising – high costs for suppliers. People and industry experts seem to be much more realistic nowadays in terms of RFID’s potential! Which is good of course!

Recommendations: Although the market might take longer to develop than expected, RFID is clearly one of the leading, pervasive technologies ahead of us. Once the initial pilot projects in various industries have delivered the expected ROI, the world should be poised to see more innovation coming from this sector.

Another Cleantech IPO in Germany!

Posted November 16, 2006 by habichler
Categories: Cleantech, Exit

Almost unnoted by many here in Germany was the recent IPO by Petrotec, a producer of bio-diesel based on renewable resources (various forms of natural or chemical substances, oil etc.). In 2005, the company delivered revenues of €40.5M and an EBITDA of €8M, and now has a market cap of €180M.

The global market for bio-diesel is poised for explosive growth in the next ten years. Although Europe currently represents 90% of global bio-diesel consumption and production, the U.S. is now ramping up production at a faster rate than Europe. Currently, Germany still has a leading position in the consumption of Bio-Diesel here in Europe (see chart below):

The bio-diesel market, especially here in Europe , has gone through various ups and downs in the last couple of years. Recently, the legislative changes in several countries have lead to a reduction of subsidies, which could potentially hamper demand in these markets.

For example in June of 2006, German legislation was adopted in order to tax bio-diesel going forward:

“Für Biodiesel und Pflanzenöl soll ab 2012 der volle Mineralölsteuersatz gelten. Reiner Biodiesel wird ab August 2006 mit neun Cent pro Liter besteuert. In Stufen von sechs Cent wird die Steuer ab 2008 jedes Jahr bis 2011 erhöht. Ab 2012 greift dann ein Steuersatz von 45 Cent. Er liegt damit zwar um zwei Cent unter dem Satz für fossile Brennstoffe, allerdings ist der Brennwert von Biosprit auch entsprechend geringer. Auch reines Pflanzenöl, das zunächst steuerfrei bleiben sollte, wird ab 2008 in Stufen von acht Cent besteuert.”

Takeaway: After the solar / photovoltaic market, the bio-ethanol / bio-diesel market might be the next big wave in cleantech. The favourable feed-in-tariffs in Europe, especially in Germany , have not only led to an enormous market uptake BUT to an unprecedented increase in innovation and new technologies. Many successful start-ups have grown up and did successful IPOs in the past few years. Bio-Fuel could be another of these opportunities for Germany to spur innovation, if legislation remains favourable and if venture capitalists continue to invest in these emerging areas.

Microsoft launches Zune – Initial feedback disappointing

Posted November 15, 2006 by habichler
Categories: Digital Media

Microsoft today launched its “IPod-Killer” – ZUNE. The initial feedback from US Bloggers and the High-Tech Press is disappointing.

A real-time poll done by readers on SpiegelOnline shows a gloomy pictures for Zune. Asked whether Zune will have a chance against iPod, the majority of readers seems to be very sceptical.

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Takeaway: Good try, but still a long way to go before they might be able to successfully compete with Apple on their home turf!